IOWA LEGISLATURE

Here are some of the newest Iowa laws

Lawmakers tackled medical cannabis and lemonade

(File photo) The Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, photographed on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gaze
(File photo) The Iowa State Capitol building in Des Moines, photographed on Tuesday, June 10, 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Starting today, Iowans are free to carry guns in courthouses — but not courtrooms — and could face harsher punishments for animal cruelty.

And lemonade stands are now legal in Iowa.

Believe it or not, kid-run lemonade stands were technically illegal before this year’s legislative session. They are now legal thanks to the actions of lawmakers and Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The legalization of lemonade stands is one of many new laws that has gone on the books this year, and a host more go into effect today.

Here are some of Iowa’s newest laws:

ABSENTEE BALLOTS

The state’s top elections official will require permission from legislative leaders before mailing absentee ballot request forms to voters during a public health emergency.

Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate, in an effort amid the coronavirus pandemic to limit the number of in-person voters for Iowa’s June 2 primary election, mailed absentee ballot request forms to every active registered voter in the state. The result was a record-setting turnout for a primary election.

Senate Republicans introduced and approved legislation that would have prohibited the secretary of state from taking similar action in the future. A compromise in the House led to House File 2486, which allows the secretary of state to propose such action to the Legislative Council, which is made up of House and Senate leadership.

“We think that’s important no matter who’s secretary of state, that one person shouldn’t have the authority to make such significant elections changes without the Legislature’s involvement,” Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said after the compromise passed the House.

TOBACCO 21

Sure, it was already federal law. But state lawmakers also raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco and vaping products to 21.

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By passing Senate File 2268, lawmakers ensured Iowa law enforcement officials will be able to enforce the law, and that the state would continue to receive up to $3.2 million in federal funding for state-run substance abuse programs.

MEDICAL CANNABIS

The state’s medical cannabis program was updated, although not everyone agrees it was for the best.

Advocates of the program and some lawmakers wanted a much broader expansion to make the program more feasible for more potential patients.

Other lawmakers, Reynolds and the Reynolds-appointed state medical cannabis advisory board supported more modest changes, which came in the form of House File 2589. The legislation adds post-traumatic stress order and severe, intractable autism as diagnoses for which an Iowa patient can obtain medical cannabis. It also caps the amount of product a patient can obtain at 4.5 grams of THC over a 90-day period. Critics contended that is too limiting to make the program effective for many potential patients.

“Here we are, five years after passing our original law … and tonight you’re going to make it even worse. Wow. No small task, colleagues,” said Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, during debate on the legislation.

GUN RESTRICTIONS

Iowans will be able to carry a firearm in county courthouses, but not in courtrooms.

House File 2502 also requires any local government that restricts weapons in a public building screen anyone who enters the building for weapons and provide armed security personnel inside the building.

While lawmakers who supported the measure said it was necessary to ensure safety and provide clarity across all 99 Iowa counties, a gun safety advocacy group claimed the new law effectively forces local governments to allow people to carry guns in public buildings.

ANIMAL CRUELTY

Animal abuse causing serious injury or death will become a serious misdemeanor, and a second offense will be a Class D felony under House File 737

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